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tv   CBS Evening News  CBS  March 12, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST

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>> mitchell: tonight, disaster in japan. in the aftermath of the massive earthquake, wide areas of japan's northeast coast lie in ruins without power or transportation. as officials say the death toll could well be over 1,000. i'm russ mitchell. also tonight, nuclear concerns. an explosion rocks a nuclear power plant but leaves the nuclear core intact. now questions are being raised about nuclear safety both in japan and here at home. season at risk-- why the breakdown of nfl labor talks could mean no action on the nation's gridirons this fall. and quake questions-- this town prepared in the u.s. for an earthquake as strong as the one
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that hit japan. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell. >> mitchell: and good evening. it is already sunday morning in japan, and another major aftershock has just hit the country which is still digging out after friday's disastrous 8.9-magnitude earthquake. here's the latest-- an explosion at a nuclear power plant forced 170,000 people to evacuate while an emergency was declared tonight at a second reactor in the same complex. roads and buildings throughout the area have been devastated, and hundreds of thousands are stranded without food or water. we have correspondents all along the earthquake zone tonight and we begin with ben tracy in tokyo. >> reporter: with more cameras on the ground, we are now getting our closest look yet at the extent of the damage. it is simply overwhelming. in hard-hit sendai, a city of one million people, police say they found as many as 300 bodies washed up on the beach as the
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tsunami hit the city's airport, new video said to be from inside the terminal, shows frightened passengers watching the waves wash away a parking lot full of cars. japan's prime minister toured the quake zone saturday where fires are still ranging out of control. the torrents of water that swept through these towns left nothing but misery behind. this woman said, "we tried to escape by car but were caught in the waves and were washed away here." rescue workers are still hoping to save those trapped in the rubble, and the japanese government is sending at least 50,000 troops to help but they can't reach some of the most heavily damaged areas. people are desperate for basic necessities. this mother of two says, "i came here for water, but they ran out." it's been less than 48 hours since the 8.9-magnitude quake tore open the earth and unleashed a 23-foot-high wall of
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water. it erased the ground below, rushing nearly section mile inland. anything in its path was forced to move. it's early sunday morning here in tokyo, and people are actually starting to get used to the dozens of aftershocks that are happening here every day. now, they should get smaller over time, but they could last for years. that's because experts now say the massive quake released enough energy to provide electricity to the city of los angeles for an entire year. >> at the time it was terrifying. i've never felt a quake that strong. you know, my japanese coworkers haven't experienced anything like this, either, in their lifetime. >> reporter: the earthquake that hit japan this morning was actually the 261st aftershock. it was located about 200 miles north of tokyo, but we could definitely feel it here in the city. the ground started shaking, buildings were situation. clearly keeping people here on edge. russ. >> mitchell: ben trace netokyo.
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take care. thank you very much. attention was focused for most of the day on an explosion at the fukushima nuclear power plant where officials say the containment vessel is intact with no imminent threat of a meltdown. sea water is being pump in to cool the core and an engineer was declared tonight at another reactor nearby. celia hatten is there with more on that part of the story. >> reporter: at the fukushima nuclear complex, radioactive smoke billowing from one react reactor, the power outage at another, has some japanese call this japan's chernobyl. the blast at unit 1 destroyed the outer container when the cooling system failed after workers released radioactive steam to ease the pressure. four workers were injured. japanese officials said an electricity out annual early sunday morning at another reactor in the same complex, unit 3, caused another emergency. without power, the cooling system failed. workers are trying to restore power and prevent the worst case, a meltdown. japan's nuclear safety agency is saying more than 100 people
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could have been exposed to radiation. but japan's prime minister, naoto kan, insist everything is under control. still, government officials are playing it safe double the size of the evacuation zone around the plant to 12 miles and scanning everyone for radiation. three uvacueees are already being treat forward excessively high radiation levels. 70 miles away from the explosion site, the reactor's shadow still looms large. roads are badly damaged, so some here endure a grim wait to secure plane tickets. amid reports of a possible nuclear meltdown in fukushima, this tiny airport is much busier than normal with japanese military flying in and local residents attempting to get out. the aging fukushima reactor had been scheduled for retirement in just over two weeks' time. but critics have argued for years that an earthquake-prone country like japan should not maintain 54 active nuclear reactors. the poisonous smoke lingering over fukushima has led some here
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to wonder if they were right all along. celia hatten, cbs news, fukushima, japan. >> mitchell: japanese nuclear safety officials say that on a scale of 1-7, today's power plant explosion rates a 4, compared to a 5 for the 1979 three mile island accident in pennsylvania and a full 7 for the 1986 chernobyl disaster in the soviet union. elaine quijano has more on the safety wells today's events in japan are raising. >> reporter: experts agree-- the explosion at the fukushima nuclear power plant was most likely caused when a buildup of hydrogen gas ignited. but experts disagree on the potential danger now, even of a melted down. >> that danger is almost vanishingly small. if there was a danger of that, it would have been much more early on in, in the first hour or two after the reactors were shut down. >> reporter: lacy ford, with the industry lobbying group the
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world nuclear association, says reports that the reactor's main containment unit is intact are an excellent sign. that unit, made out of steel, houses the nuclear fuel itself. >> it's designed to contain the worst conceivable mess inside if everything-- and i mean everything-- goes absolutely wrong. >> reporter: but edwin lyman of the union of concerned scientists sees a nuclear emergency that's far from over. >> you could have the fuel overheating and melting to the extent that you can't recover from that situation, and then the possibility of a large-scale radiological release exists. >> reporter: tokyo electric, which runs the plant, is now taking an extraordinary step of injecting sea water instead of the usual fresh water into the reactor to cool it down. >> and i see that as a-- a measure of desperation. >> reporter: a measure that ruins any chance the 40-year-old reactor will work in the future. it was due to be shut down anyway in less than two weeks. >> taking steps to make sure the
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core is well covered with water and they're doing everything that's necessary tseems to me, to settle things down. >> reporter: and it sounds like the problem with the second reactor at the fukushima complex is similar to what happened with the first reactor. the question is whether officials will be able to resolve the problems there, too. erous. >> mitchell: elaine, thank you very much. the u.s. and dozens of other countries immediately offered to send aid to japan. the pentagon says air force engineering experts are heading to the area and at least six u.s. navy ships will be prepared to helped distribute supplies. the los angeles county search-and-rescue team is leaving for japan tonight. our bill whitaker is driving today from tokyo to the hard-hit city of sendai. the 230-mile trip usually takes four or five hours but not this time, with destruction at every turn. >> reporter: with an international effort under way to rescue survivors from the rubble of this devastating earthquake, the japanese
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government is facing a massive problem-- how to get to the survivors. entire towns and villages have been swept away. in the tsunami zone there is no electricity, no telephone service. at least one million people are without water. the transportation ministry said most highways from tokyo to the quake zone are closed. many roads are cracked or split or clogged with cars from the estimated 300,000 people trying to evacuate the tsunami zone. that makes delivering aid to the hundreds of thousands trapped in temporary shelters nearly impossible and with cell phone service spotty, the situation in many areas remains a mystery. at the epicenter in sendai, the tsunami washed out the airport where planes on the tarmac are mired in mud. rescue worker workers are reachg survivors by helicopter. this hospital was stranded by a wall of mud. people inside took to the roof signaling for help with home made s.o . s. signs. and on this island nation,
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access the by sea to many areas is blocked by sunken boats clogging the harbors. bill whitaker, cbs news, on the road to den sigh, japan. >> mitchell: we have an update tonight of last night's cbs evening news. covering the disaster in japan, cbs news reporter lucy craft said she had not heard from her 17-year-old son attending boarding school in den sigh. we are happy to report tonight he has sent her a text message saying, "i'm another mom. stop worrying." and still ahead on tonight's evening news, qaddafi's forces on the advance in libya.
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>> mitchell: the arab league today asked the u.n. security council to impose a no-fly zone on libya. the white house said it welcomed the call, but time for such a move may be running out.
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mark phillips file this report we satellite phone from the oil port city of ras lanuf, which qaddafi loyalists recaptured from rebel forces. >> reporter: the qaddafi regime has been very anxious to demonstrate that they have taken back significant chunks of territory from the anti-qaddafi rebels. today, they organized a tour of foreign journalists through bin jawaad, when which is the further to the west the rebels have come. they've been beaten well back and the town is under clear government control, if quite badly shot up. the government has also taken back as far to the east as ras lanuf, a major oil-refining facility on the mediterranean coast. it, too, had fall tonight rebels and was a major strategic gain for them but now the qaddafi forces are clearly in control as well. that's a mixed blessing at this point as the refinery is largely on fire with a massive plume of dense, acrid smoke still towering into the sky and
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carrying on for miles to the western horizon. libya is a one-industry town, and right now a lot of it is going up in smoke. but this has strategic importance, too, taking the oil bargaining chip away from the rebel forces is a big defeat for them. mark phillips, cbs news, ras lanuf. >> mitchell: a cameraman for the al jazeera news channel was killed in an ambush today in the rebel-held city of bin jawaad. a correspondent said afterwards even in areas under rebel control, "there are followers, eyes, or fifth columns for colonel qaddafi." still to come on tonight's cbs evening news, a deadly tour bus accident in america's biggest city.
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>> mitchell: veteran new york police officers said an early-morning highway accident
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today of the most horrific they've ever seen. the crash of a bus carrying casino patrons on outskirts of new york city killed at least 14 people. jay dow tells us what happened. >> reporter: the tour bus was packed with passengers returning from a connecticut casino as it headed for chinatown in lower manhattan. the driver apparently lost control trying to avoid a tractor trailer at the new york city border. >> in an effort to avoid that activity, the bus driver swerves all the way over to the right. he strikes the guardrail. the bus goes-- along the guardrail. >> reporter: the tractor trailer driver kept going. the tour bus hit a sign post and rolled on to its right side, its roof sheered off by the pole. 13 people died at the scene. 19 more were taken to the hospital. firefighters called it a gruesome scene. >> the majority of the occupants in the bus got pushed forward into the bus, into the forward third of the bus, including some
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of the fatalities. >> the new york city fire department tells u.s. this bus crashed just before 6:00 a.m. in the southbound lanes of i-95. when we pulled up on the scene, there were several dozen fire trucks that were already here. but southbound traffic along i-95 was stopped for hours in order to begin the accident investigation. which will include federal assistance from the n.t.s.b. jay dow, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: in the plains, north dakota is under a travel advisory today after a late-winter blizzard blasted the state. the highway patrol rescued some 800 motorists who had been stranded on interstate 94 and it took them to shelters. just ahead on tonight's cbs evening news, the labor negotiation breakdown that could mean no nfl season this fall.
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>> mitchell: one day after wisconsin's governor signed a bill stripping public workers of most their collective bargaining rights, protesters turned out at the state capitol and vowed to try to refeet republican lawmakers in next year's elections. the national football league has its own labor problems. the league's first work stoppage in almost a quarter century began early this morning when the players were locked out. does that put the nfl season in jeopardy? whit johnson has the latest. >> reporter: in september, fans of the national football league may feel as much pain as the prayers themselves-- that's if there's no football being played. >> the absence of an agreement is a shared failure, and i think they should be disappointed. >> reporter: after 16 days of talks, both sides of the country's most popular sport failed to resolve a heated labor dispute, so at midnight, the nfl's owners locked out their players. the players union dissolved it
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it it itself, which allowed 10 players, led by star quarterback tom brady, to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league and each individual franchise. >> whatever trust that we would hope would exist, doesn't appear to be there anymore. >> reporter: the issues include extended health benefits for players, limits on reek pay, and perhaps the sharpest disagreement-- how to slice up the league's $9 billion annual revenue. the owners, who now get more than $1 billion off the top before dividing the rest with the players, want more. they say to build stadiums and grow the game. >> their argument to the players is, hey, when we grow revenue, everybody makes more money. the players are looking at that math and saying, we're not so sure we think so. >> reporter: at the moment the effects of the stalemate are minor. there will be a draft in april, but no new contracts, no practices, and players who only get paid during the season will now have to pay their own health insurance. >> nobody is under real financial threat until september, and i think that's when we'll find out who's got
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the real leverage. >> reporter: the next step is court, where a judge will decide whether the league can go ahead with the lockout. if so, an nfl season could be in jeopardy for the first time since 1987. russ. >> mitchell: not good news, whit johnson in washington, thank you very much. and just ahead on tonight's cbs evening news what, can america learn from the earthquake in japan?
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>> mitchell: although it is not yet possible to accurately predict earthquakes, researchers in japan say a system there did raise an alarm before the start of the most severe shaking, possibly saving countless lines. as daniel sieberg reports now, that may not be the case here. >> reporter: while the damage from friday's quake is still unfolding, one thing is clear-- japan was ready for this one. >> japanese city, are one of the strongest in the world. >> reporter: 6,000 people were killed in the kobae quake of
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1995. that was japan's wake-up call. the government authorized half a billion dollars to outfit the country with more than 1,000 ground sensors that more than the distance between quake waves. it triggers alert on tv, radio, and cell phones seconds before more tremors hit, possibly saving lives. >> japan is the only country that can provide such information on the early-warning system. >> reporter: japan pores $100 million annually into earthquake research and prepare understandness. >> i think there's no dispute it's the world's best seismic network. >> reporter: geographically, japan is only 4% the size of the u.s. but the annual quake budget is about twice what it is here. still, one project in the u.s. hopes understanding quakes will lead to early warnings. >> the idea is just like a black box on an airplane. it's not going to keep the airplane from falling out of the sky, but it does provide the
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arrow space industry and the safety experts to understand why that plane fell out of the sky. >> reporter: those instruments were handed out to 1200 volunteers in california to gather information about what happens when a quake hits. >> earthquake prediction, nobody has reliably done that. it would be more toward earthquake understanding. >> reporter: getting a warning of several seconds is one thing. but what about more than that? during a test at the lawrence berkeley lab last year, ernie major and his team were able to see specific changes in the ground hours before a small earthquake hit. is it possible one day that these types of devices in the ground will lead to an early-warning system? >> possibly, who knows? maybe 10, 15 years from now. by understanding the physics of the process and watching it and says uh-oh there's one coming. >> reporter: but at $5,000 apiece, these are the only instruments in the country right now. by comparison, they're installed all over japan. that country also regiments
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drills like these and has enforced new building codes with design innovations that allow skyscrapers to teeter instead of topple. so until scientists here are able to accurately predict earthquakes, they're working to make buildings safer. >> things look different from up here. >> reporter: at the university of color berkeley, this is one of 15 labs in the u.s. testing everything from port stability to how much stress steel beams can handle, what happens inside a building. >> any heavy content of the building, if not secured to the walls of the building, they will tend to be tossed around. >> reporter: and cause injuries or worse. >> exactly. >> reporter: but without significantly more funding those types of tests remain in the lab, leaving millions of people vulnerable. it may be a hard lesson learned from the tragic images in japan which could have been even worse. daniel sieberg, cbs news, new york. >> mitchell: and finally this evening, a reminder that daylight saving time resumes at 2:00 a.m. in most part of the
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country. that means those clocks should spring forward and be advanced by one hour. and that is the cbs evening news. i'm russ mitchell in new york. good night. ca 44 hours and 44 minutes, since the japan earthquake triggered a tsunami, tonight, the damage, the death toll and the new nuclear threat. >> this is a joke. >> plus, the outrage and concern after our own tsunami washed ashore. we were panicked. >> we'll hear from people from japan who are worried about their hometown disaster while here in the bay area. ,,
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